I became fascinated with space ever since man first landed on the moon. I've been wanting to get a good photo of a rocket launch since I started coming down to Florida from Maryland almost 7 years ago. The closest that I could get was about 13 miles. It was awesome to watch the booster rockets landing back on the launch pad with the sound barrier blast and the rumble that runs through your chest. But, as far as photos go it sucked.
What I learned that, though it seems obvious, you only get one shot to get this right. I found out that, to get the great shots I wanted, I needed to shoot at night. But, it seems you need to leave the shutter open for at least 2 minutes.
Phones can only do 30 seconds as far as I know. I needed a DSLR camera. But, I didn't know where to start. And, I knew a solution would come. A couple of weeks later, It came in the form of one of my caddie clients.He then said he would give me one of his older DSLR cameras that really hadn't been used. But, due to the pandemic and other health issues, it would be more than 2 years before I'd get my next chance. When I heard that the Artemis1 would be heading to the moon a day after I arrived in FL, I knew I had my chance to capture the biggest rocket to ever leave the earth. Hurricane Nicole had recently hit the coast where I planned to shoot.
She had taken out many of the wooden stairs needed to get to the beach. But, I had found out from some friends where to go.
But, there were a lot of clouds in the sky as I approached the parking area. I wasn't sure if this would happen. By the time I got all my gear out of the car, the moon showed up in the clearing clouds. As I walked the 1/3 of a mile to my chosen spot, I enjoyed the sound of the waves crashing next to me and sending a salty sea mist through the warm night air. I put down my large camera pack and set up my tripod pretty far from where the waves had been crashing onto the beach.
I set up my shot and prepared for lift off by watching a YouTube channel that was covering the launch. While I was taking practice shots, a wave quietly ran up to my camera pack. I didn't see it until the last second and grabbed it quickly and it got my pack a little wet but I hadn't zipped it up so some of the contents came out onto the sand including my portable hard drive. Then, the launch was delayed with 7 minutes to go. This launch had been attempted over two months earlier and never went off.
I was told it would be at least 47 minutes. This rocket was going to the moon and the launch windows are smaller than those with SpaceX rockets. With work looming the next morning, I had to make a decision on whether to stay or leave. I decided to stay and set an alarm for 47 minutes. I figured it would give me 7 minutes to get ready again.I turned off all my electronic gear to save my batteries not knowing how long I would be there. I waited and began to get unusually impatient. I figured I better get ready a few minutes early. It's a good thing I did! When I checked in they had started the countdown again! There was only a couple of minutes until launch! There was also a delay from the YouTube cast so when they got to 15 seconds, the sky lit up like I was in a stadium. But, it was an orange glow. I quickly hit the shutter and prayed that everything was still set correctly. I wouldn't know until I pressed the shutter again to stop the exposure.
I watched as the rocket quickly showed itself above the trees in front of me and made the turn to the east as it climbed toward orbit. I couldn't take my eyes off of it. I then realized that the rocket had gone far out of frame and it was past time to stop the shutter.
I quickly touched it and waited for the screen on the back of the camera to reveal what it had captured. I was excited to see that there was brightness showing.
It may have been a little too bright. I had to wait until the next day to edit and see how it turned out. There were some overbright areas but it was awesome!I got a little help from my mentor with the editing and VOILA! What you see is what I got! I can't wait for the launch next week! 1 Premium Glossy Photo Paper are high quality, professional paper-prints.
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